After a long battle over the dangerous conditions of the Trans-Labrador Highway, Ryland feels the camel’s back has been broken and enough is enough.
“The deplorable state of this highway, with no one to listen to us, is just adding to an already boiling pot,” said Ryland. “If it takes moving the border to fix it, then so be it. We have no other choice.”
Protests have been occurring over the past week across the Labrador Straits area in regards to the highway. Demonstrators are hopeful to get new pavement across nine additional kilometres of the main highway, in areas where many feel its conditions are a matter of life and death to drive over.
Ryland has felt for quite some time that a separation movement is destiny for Labrador. He says it’s only a matter of time before committees are formed, protests are made and lawyers are hired.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Ryland said. “But let me tell you, I’m 60 years old, and once that day comes that we can pull away from Newfoundland, I’m going to die a happy man, knowing that I did it for the youth of today and the youth of tomorrow.”
As of now, a letter is being drafted to both Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster and Transportation and Works Minister Al Hawkins over postponing future protests until this Friday. If a favourable response is not met by then, the protests are planned to resume.
“We’re asking for a mere nine kilometers, so we can drive at night and not worry about going through pot holes and sending our children bouncing out of their seats,” Ryland said.
Ryland said local residents he has spoken with are behind him on his message. He feels his community has already reaped the benefits of living near the Quebec shore for so long, and nothing would really change by moving that border a little closer to home.
“If I wanted to fly to Newfoundland or anywhere across Canada tonight, I’d go to Quebec. If I had a problem health-wise tonight, I’d go to Quebec. If I want a cheap pack of beer tonight, I’d go to Quebec – and the list goes on,” he said.
He has also discussed territorial status for Labrador as an additional possibility.
Ryland has been reaching out and putting pressure on Premier Dwight Ball and Labrador officials the past few days but has received limited response.
While acknowledging that a number of meetings and discussions have to take place before things can really be set in motion, there is no denying Ryland is set on his mission.
“We have to get officials in, talk constitutional rights and so on,” he said. “Along the way, we will do our own survey and see what people are in favour of, and we’ll take our stance accordingly.”